Following the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, where the President-elect ironically received fewer votes than the losing candidate, the credibility of democracy in this country has been under fierce media and public scrutiny. However, this isn’t just a national issue. The fall of the basis of democracy has been a steady problem all over the world. India—the largest democracy in the world, and one of the rising superpowers today—stands at a similar predicament in fully embracing democracy and its values. There are lessons to be learned here that are applicable to governments all over the world. What is the root of this issue, and how can this be dealt with?
After attaining independence from the British in 1947, India – as a country – has seen an immense amount of progress. Today, it is the largest democracy and the seventh largest economy in the world. Not only has it advanced in the fields of science, medicine, business, technology, and countless others, but it has also established itself as a major world power. Several home-grown Indian companies such as Tata and Reliance are devouring international brands like Jaguar, and bagging multiple multi-billion dollar deals. The markets are growing at a steady pace. New leaders are emerging in the country with new ideas, challenging the prevailing system. In the field of aeronautics, India is ahead of most countries in the world, and has executed several groundbreaking operations. Just recently, it launched a successful mission to Mars, becoming the only third country to do so. India’s opinion in international diplomacy is highly esteemed, clearly demonstrating its diplomatic and political influence. All things considered, India is one of the most prominent countries on the list of developing countries, and has the potential to go much further. In the seventy or so years since its independence, it has indeed accomplished a great deal of success.
What then, is the predicament here? Everything seems to be as good as it can be. India, the largest democracy in the world, is touching great heights. This is the India that the world sees. But is that really the whole truth? Is the apparent development adequate and thorough? There are several lenses through which this issue can be observed. The political system of India has always been under the radar of critics for alleged scams, and this has often been linked to corruption within the government. This may be true to some extent, but at the very root, it is actually the people who are to blame for the country’s political misfortunes. The common man always votes for the candidate’s image, rather than his or her ideology. In the true definition of the word, a good politician tries to win an election so that he or she can serve the people. In India, though, it works the other way around: the politician serves the people, only so he or she can go on to win the election. Even when there is a public service member who genuinely wishes to serve the people, it is extremely difficult for him or her to do so. For instance, whenever there is a bill that passes through parliament and is subject to a vote, a party member is virtually forced to take the same decision as the party leader. They are given almost no opportunity to voice their opinions. In other words, a select few people are running the world’s largest “democracy.”
In January 2015, the government printed an advertisement in a national news carrier, omitting the words secular and socialist from the preamble of the constitution. Given the intolerant sentiment that is prevalent in the country at the moment, such a move is undoubtedly going to raise several eyebrows. The beef ban that is sweeping the nation state by state, is yet another example of the rising intolerance. On top of this, when the Prime Minister of the largest secular democracy calls himself a “Hindu nationalist,” there is bound to be a certain amount of discontent and insecurity in the country. Such situations often lead to a lack of cooperation within the country that greatly hinders growth.
India gained independence from the British in the year 1947. In that year, the average Indian income was four times as much as the average Chinese income. India’s GDP was six times more than China’s. In the year 1990, the United Nations ranked India as the world’s fastest growing economy. Today, the average Chinese man earns almost twelve times as much as the average Indian, and China’s GDP is far ahead of India. And India? It’s still one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
South Korea – a nation that received independence around the same time as India, and was nothing more than a cluster of villages when Japan decolonized it in 1945 – has developed at an overwhelming pace. Today, India is the 7th largest economy in the world – just above Italy – with a GDP of over $2 trillion. The only difference though, is that Italy has almost the same economic strength catering to just 60 million people, while India has well over a billion people. So what is the reason for this huge difference?
According to a particular Indian magazine, nation-states can be classified into two kinds. There are HDC’s (Highly Developing Countries), and NDCs (Non-Developing Countries). India though, is an RDC (Refusing to Develop Country). There is no lack of opportunity or resources. The only concern is to change the mindset of the people, who then elect the government, who in turn run the country. If people want change, they have to begin it. And it needs to happen now.